TR-4897: SQL Server on Azure NetApp Files - Real Deployment View

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Niyaz Mohamed, NetApp

IT organizations face constant change. Gartner reports nearly 75% of all databases will require cloud-based storage by 2022. As a leading relational database management system (RDBMS), Microsoft SQL Server is the go-to choice for Windows platform-designed applications and organizations that rely on SQL Server for everything from enterprise resource planning (ERP) to analytics to content management. SQL Server has helped to revolutionize the way enterprises manage massive data sets and power their applications to meet the schema and query performance demands.

Most IT organizations follow a cloud-first approach. Customers in a transformation phase evaluate their current IT landscape and then migrate their database workloads to the cloud based on an assessment and discovery exercise. Some factors driving customers toward cloud migration include elasticity/burst, data center exit, data center consolidation, end-of-life scenarios, mergers, acquisitions, and so on. The reason for migration can vary based on each organization and their respective business priorities. When moving to the cloud, choosing the right cloud storage is very important in order to unleash the power of SQL Server database cloud deployment.

Use case

Moving the SQL Server estate to Azure and integrating SQL Server with Azure’s vast array of platform-as-a-service (PaaS) features such as Azure Data Factory, Azure IoT Hub, and Azure Machine Learning creates tremendous business value to support digital transformation. Adopting the cloud also enables the respective business unit to focus on productivity and delivering new features and enhancements faster (DevTest use case) than relying on the CAPEX model or traditional private cloud models. This document covers a real-time deployment of SQL Server Always On availability group (AOAG) on Azure NetApp Files leveraging Azure Virtual Machines.

Azure NetApp Files provides enterprise-grade storage with continuously available file shares. Continuously available shares are required by SQL Server production databases on SMB file share to make sure that the node always has access to the database storage, including during disruptive scenarios such as controller upgrades or failures. Continuously available file shares eliminate the need to replicate data between storage nodes. Azure NetApp Files uses SMB 3.0 scale-out, persistent handles, and transparent failover to support nondisruptive operations (NDOs) for planned and unplanned downtime events, including many administrative tasks.

When planning cloud migrations, you should always evaluate the best approach to use. The most common and easiest approach for application migration is rehosting (also known as lift and shift). The example scenario provided in this document uses the rehosting method. SQL Server on Azure virtual machines with Azure NetApp Files allows you to use full versions of SQL Server in the cloud without having to manage on-premises hardware. SQL Server virtual machines (VMs) also simplify licensing costs when you pay as you go and provides elasticity and bursting capabilities for development, test, and estate refresh scenarios.